“Nadi ka kinara ho to aisa. A river bank should have nothing but parks and greenery,’’ said Shatrughan Sinha, at Millennium Park on Thursday. And he wasn’t parroting lines for a Bollywood blockbuster. Instead, the shipping minister was preparing the script for a riverfront gift to a city he says he “loves coming back to”.
Bowled over by the park with a view, Sinha was quick to greenlight the proposal for a much-awaited amusement park along the Hooghly, on the Strand. The state government has plans to build an amusement park on a large plot owned by the Calcutta Port Trust (CPT), in an extension of Millennium Park. The CPT authorities, however, have been hesitant to hand over the plot.
Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya sought the intervention of the shipping ministry for the project. Minister Sinha, at a meeting on Wednesday with Bhattacharya, his department’s principal secretary S. Rajendrakumar and CMDA officials, cleared the project. Sinha was taken on a tour of Millennium Park on Thursday afternoon, which proved the clincher.
“We plan to construct a park and lay gardens along the river along the entire stretch from Rabindra Setu to Vidyasagar Setu. We have already completed work on a major portion of the stretch on the Calcutta side. The rest of the work will be taken up shortly. The hurdle in building the amusement park has been removed now, with the intervention of the Union minister,” said Bhattacharya.
Sinha assured the state government “all assistance” in the amusement park project after his trip to Millennium Park. The amusement park will come up on 30 acres between Rabindra Setu and Millennium Park. There will be a children’s park with several rides, gardens, a cafeteria, a fountain and food kiosks. A sum of Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for the project.
Officials said many firms and industrial houses, including public-sector undertakings, have come forward to sponsor the project, which will be implemented by the CMDA.
“The area, once a spot for loading and unloading goods from ships, is lying vacant and unused. We want to utilise the place. A river bank is the most appropriate spot for a park, as the air is fresh. Our move is aimed at changing the face of the waterfront to make it more attractive,” said urban affairs principal secretary Rajendrakumar.
After the park project is completed, Rajendrakumar said the dilapidated warehouses will be renovated, with help from The London Rivers Association, to house “modern restaurants, a music centre, and much more”.